I’m afraid for the lives of my students

image

image

It has been less than 24 hours ago that police killed Alston Sterling and Philando Castile. It has been over the course of my shift that I started thinking how I am afraid for the lives of my students.

One young man, a kind demeanor, playful and articulate, this is what I’ll remember him for, but what if for some reason he gets singled out by the police and pump him full of lead? They don’t know him like I know him, they won’t have the reach that I do with him, are they going to “shoot first and ask questions later”?

What about another student of mine, a guy who wants to go to college, who wants to make a difference, who wants a wife and family some day. Doesn’t his life matter?

I used to be concerned about my students not adjusting to life in the community, or in a group home setting due to not taking their treatment and individual plans seriously, or just plain old learned helplessness. Now, if anything, I’m concerned that they might become another killed by a cop statistic!

I’m not fearful, police violence has always been around, but now with technology it is more at our front door than it was before. I don’t want to read about my former students shot by the police, especially when I know them and I know some of their families, that kind of hurt I’ll carry with me forever. God forbid they’re found to be innocent and the cops walk free.

The system isn’t successful, the system is corrupt, and no newly elected President will solve anything. Change starts from within, change starts at the grassroots level, and until those changes occur there will be no overarching change within our society.

No justice, no peace!
~ Nathanael~

Advertisements

Being mindful on Martin Luther King Jr day / We have so far to go

https://i0.wp.com/artzthings.com/e-pins/images/large/mlk-1.jpg
(my favorite quote by him)

I was reading and listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a dream speech the other day, and this time around of listening to it this part jumped out at me; “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I listened to its entirety, being mindful of what he said, but I grew a bit sad because we’re still not there yet.

I don’t need to rehash events that took place in 2014, if you follow the news even casually you know what happened and perhaps even the where and possibly the why. But it goes beyond racial inequality, we still have human trafficking, people still die of water issues and starvation, LGBTQ rights are disregarded by states as well as countries. And while it might seem like too much sometimes, it doesn’t have to be, anyone can be a voice for themselves and sometimes they can be a voice for others as well.
On a personal level I realize that this life I live wasn’t meant to be turned inward, I wasn’t meant to take on life alone for my own gain or to tackle issues as they come up alone. I was made…I am designed for community, and part of that means thinking and acting and being more than “one person”.

***

A few months ago I went to a conference about what’s going on in Israel as well as Palestine. It was well attended, and in between the sessions we had breaks to get coffee and perhaps dwell on what we had just heard and learned. I asked those around me and those at the coffee station what they had thought so far. The most common answers I heard that day were:
“I can’t wait for God to do something about what’s going on in Palestine and Israel”
and
“I want to find out more about what’s going on in Palestine and Israel so that I can do something about it.”

Frankly, those are postures I have taken on in my life, thankfully I lean to the latter. One that expects God to take care of the problem and one that wants to play a role in working to change that problem. While I do think God could very well take care of such matters devoid of human interaction, I don’t think it was meant for us to do. We can play a role in finding a way to be engaged in a social justice manner. How does one get social justice minded? I honestly don’t know, I only have suggestions not solutions. Perhaps the questions of 1. What am I passionate about in life? 2. What fires me up? 3. What injustice in the world do I see that bothers me? 4. What can I do to bring about change, no matter how microcosm it may be? is a good place to begin.

In my own life, the issues of what happens to the LGBTQ Community on a local level are on my heart and on my mind. Being an ally has taken time, but I am thankful to God for leading me here and beyond. It’s why I participate in the I’m Sorry Campaign, it’s why I own up to my shortcomings and collective issues caused by Christians. There’s still so much that needs to be done, but it’s being done.

The sooner you start, the sooner it becomes a habit. The sooner it becomes a habit, the sooner you can impress these values on your community going outward. It also helps you find people who are likeminded and likehearted, people who resonate a deep “me too”. Your life is not your own, you were made for so much more!

“It’s always the right time to do the right thing” – Martin Luther King Jr.
~Nathanael~

Stepping into history can be heavy; Martin Luther King Jr/Memphis

On Friday last week I went to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. As soon as I left the parking lot it felt heavy, as this was the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

0rdy.jpg

Before even getting here, I the lover of history knew about this site from what I learned in history in my younger years. But reading about such places has a different weight to them, going to such sites can be so heavy.

In case you’ve never been to the museum it goes like this. You park, you walk in the parking lot outside of Martin Luther King Jr.’s room, you go into an underpass of sorts, go into the museum, make your way to the a higher level and there you are in the area where James Earl Ray was staying and conditions of this place are such so it’s presented as it was back then! The bathroom and cracked window in the above photo is where he was when he fired his rifle across to the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out…it is eerie for many reasons, it is very matter-of-fact as to what happened.

It was heavy for me because I think about a lot of things, and when I think about individuals who have moved in the direction of progress, a LOT of people die in their prime for what they believe and stand for; Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr…the list goes on.

There’s something to living for what you believe, and I truly try to live out what I believe as a follower of Christ on a daily basis. Yet there’s also something to living what you believe even if it costs you your life. I don’t think I have any threats against me, I’m a peaceable person and don’t get into a lot of arguments. I passionately dialogue and discuss things out, and so I don’t think I’m someone worth targeting despite perhaps coming from a different stance from different people.

Still those who are martyred for what they believe hold admiration on my part, now suicide bombers who martyr themselves do not hold any admiration, perhaps that’ll be another blog post for another day.

***

Martin Luther King Jr. studied the peaceful protesting methodology of Mahatma Gandhi, and he was also a follower of Christ. His words and speeches are prolific and well-known, and he exemplified St. Francis of Assisi’s words “make me an instrument of your peace”. Being where he was when he gave up his spirit and passed on was awe-educing, the silence of that place was deafening. I too want to live out a life of being an instrument of peace, as well as progress for humanity. How will that all look? I don’t know fully know yet, but I am getting to where I need to be in life and I have God to thank for that.

~Nathanael~